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non-technical psychology

Art Gallery Mode

A very insightful blog “Raptitude” newsletter contained very interesting idea. I highly recommend reading the full article and subscribe to the newsletter – it is full of content.

“The trick here is that there’s always something significant, poignant, or poetic everywhere you look, if your mind is in that certain mode – so rare for adults — of just looking at what’s there, without reflexively evaluating or explaining the scene. A mystery co-ordinate in an unfamiliar neighborhood gives you few preconceptions about what you’re going to find there, so the mind naturally flips into this receptive, curious state that’s so natural for children.

I sometimes call this state “art gallery mode,” because of a trick I learned from an art history major. We were at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, browsing famous abstract paintings by Pollock, Kandinsky, Mondrian, and other artists whose swirls, rectangles, and blobs are regarded as masterpieces.

I said something like “I like some of these but I’ve stopped pretending to know what they mean.”

He told me not to bother figuring out what they mean. “All you’re supposed to do is look at it, and notice the feeling it gives you. That’s it.” (Raptitude.com)

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non-technical psychology

Mindful photography

”Photographs are not taken or made. Photographs are given. ”

BLACK+WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY magazine issue 256 has an interesting article about mindful photography and is a good welcomed change in the average photography magazine articles. The article writes about how photographs are product of how good photographer perceives the world around her/him.

If you have missed mindfulness – it is an ancient technique but currently very trending (for a reason) way to handle our mind and cope with the world around us – here is a short summary: first of all it is not religious at all. It is about settling your mind by being present in the current moment which causes many positive effects in us. One of the result of practicing mindfulness is that it mutes/destroys your ego – and before you get thrown off; ego is actually bad thing in us.

Mindfulness is about loosing preconceptions and see world without prejudice. Meditation is the very center practicing method for mindfulness – and if you haven’t ever tried meditation – give it a chance. I would call it basic skill which every human should learn. Anyone will benefit from the technique and can be better person for themselves and for others. Personally I laughed at mindfulness before I started to practice it. It felt one of those ”nonsense” or ”trendy” bullshit. But as you might already assume – I don’t think it is anything like that anymore. Yes – it is trendy and vogue at the moment but that doesn’t put it down at all – it just tells how the current world is. We humans need mindfulness and we need to learn to live in the now.

Each lith print is like a meditation practice – for 5-10 minutes you don’t have anything else to do than just wait for the print to come alive in the red dim darkroom.

After reading the article in B+W magazine is started to realize many things related to photography.

One of the things that I realized was that Henri-Cartier Bresson’s ”Decisive Moment” is actually 100% about being aware, being awake. Photographer is living in the current moment, in the presence and captures it without preconception. Photographer reacts to the moment because that is everything there is. Decisive moments cannot be forced. Only way you can capture such moment is just to be in the moment. You cannot take photograph. It is given to you – by being aware, open and living in the moment truly.

Netflix has made brilliant documentary about photographer Platon who have been photographing celebrities and is very established and super interesting as a person. I strongly suggest watching that documentary, I promise it won’t be let you down. You can find it in YouTube – no need to subscribe to Netflix. In the documentary there is a scene where Platon is photographing Colin Powell and Platon just takes control of the situation in a very own way. Now when I re-think this scene I can actually see that Platon is just very very present in the moment. It is just too easy to understand now. Before finding mindfulness I couldn’t completely understand what was happening. And neither was Colin Powell, asking ”what the heck did just happen?”.

”Before shoot I’m not thinking how to get good picture, but what can I learn from this person – every time” (Platon)

Platon also describes that he wants to learn from the subjects he is photographing. And it shows. And that is actually very mindful – perceive the person by being in the present moment. He even seemed to get Putin a bit off by showing in true hear that he wants to learn from him. In todays light this is very contrasty. Think about such person as Putin – how many preconceptions people have about him when they interact with him. Then you put a person in front of him who doesn’t have any, who lives in moment and genuinely wants to learn from the subject. I’m pretty sure even Putin would declare that moment a bit rare and maybe it can throw Putin a bit off.

This doesn’t mean Platon is just going in with buddhism or by living in flower field. No. He does his work. He is prepared to all kind of scenarios how the subject might feel or act. He is very experienced photographer.

I sent the first paragraph of this article (quote from the magazine) to my friend who is avid portrait photographer. You would think that in studio-style work (set-up style work) mindful or decisive photography wouldn’t work. I started to think about it and came into conclusion that it actually works on that too. You cannot force a good portrait photograph. Only to certain extent you can prepare for the shoot; equipment, lightning, location, clothes, model. When at the shoot you actually just capture the moment that shows to you just being aware. If you try to force the good shot to happen, you are probably ruining it. First of all your model might loose motivation or get anxious. Think about very stressed photographer that tries to force everything to some preconception with negative energy – would that shoot end up in great portrait of the person? If you are using available light then you might end up with bad lightning conditions. Do you cancel the shoot (only stick to your preconception) or adapt to the situation (=start to live in present moment)?

I’ve started to understand more why some people prefer film over digital. My theory is that digital is too easy and therefore you don’t feel like ”sinking” into the moment. The more tedious camera, the more you need to concentrate and the less you have energy to think anything else. Shooting ”difficult” media might be more mindful because you have to concentrate harder. This reminds me of my other hobby; RC airplanes. Our RC club had a sign on the wall that said ”When airplane departs from ground, your mind detaches from ordinary life” – meaning when you are flying RC airplane, you need to concentrate so hard on the flying that you cannot think ordinary things, or anything else. RC airplane flyer lives in the moment. I’m not arguing that you cannot be mindful photographer when using digital camera – but it might be harder to be mindful if you are using digital. Also the constant peeping at the camera screen to check if your histogram is good detaches you from the moment. I do it too and I hate it. Instead of keeping your eyes on the subject, the scene and the moment, you fall staring at the screen, zooming/panning around. If that is not being somewhere else (rather than in current moment), then what is.

Next time you go photographing, before grabbing the camera, sit down. Close your eyes. Just concentrate on deep breaths and be in the moment, in the now. I promise you will feel better and maybe capture something you wouldn’t have got otherwise!

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non-technical psychology

Purpose of photography

Why do I photograph? What attracts me in photography? Do I want to capture the most beautiful image there can be? Do I want fame & fortune? Do I want to be admired?

I’ve been attracted to photography from my pre-teen years, and I haven’t completely figured out why that is. Why do I love to take camera in front of me? Why my brain rewards me of doing so?

I’ve always felt the uniqueness of the certain moments. I just get a gut feeling when things are sparkling. I sense the special moment. I cannot watch the moment without camera. If I don’t have camera in reach I regret it. It feels like I lost something really valuable forever.

I’ve never admired “perfect” photographs. I wouldn’t care less about the technical quality of my photograp. As I’ve been lost of the purpose of photography, I’ve believed for short times it is so. But somehow I just know it isn’t my purpose for photography. Super beautiful and technically correct photos feel like they are completely different game – and don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to put them down here.

I’m not trying to stop time or just save memories. I don’t feel like have longing to yesterday or past – any more stronger than anyone else has. For sure I like memories – but not in that sense that it would drive my photography.

I get almost emotional when I’ve captured something precicious. I still get this iching feeling inside from photos that I’ve taken maybe 20-30 years ago. Those just feel so good. Fleeting moments that I’ve managed to capture. I still cannot understand why I get that and why.

I photograph because I would be unhappy if I didn’t.

I photograph because I photograph. There doesn’t need to be any spoken or written reason.

Note to self; do not ever stop photographing. Do not look for reason. Do not try to make any sort of goal or purpose for it. Please follow your passion, your gut feeling and subconciousness. Do what your brains tells you to do and nothing else. Do not let external factors guide you.

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non-technical pinhole psychology

Worldwide Pinhole Day 2022

Today was this yeas worldwide pinhole photography day. The idea is that everyone around the world photographs with lensless photographic device and submits the photographs to the organizing site. No awards given. There is no contents; just photographing and having fun.

Hang on there, litte buddy..

Pinhole cameras are very .. odd. It is actually very hard to make interesting photographs with a pinhole but at the same time pinhole cameras are very easy to use. Open the shutter and close. That’s it. It is the utmost camera which outcome you just cannot completely know beforehands.

I’ve also found that this kind of camera makes the outcomes secondary. After such good day I don’t care if the photographs are good or not. If all photographs would be ruined I wouldn’t be dissapointed at all. Maybe a bit because I would like to have had captured some memory from the day, but hey – now I have at least this blogpost!

Pinhole cameras are careless and because they are technically very simple, you don’t have to spend time on technical things and therefore live in the moment better. And the expectations are low because .. well, the outcomes are usually very low in terms of quality. But that is just fine! We need to embrace the non-perfection as our society seem to always aim for perfection.

Strange attachments and unordinary camera angles = fun!

For me it was very good and refreshing day being around and photographing with only a pinhole camera. I enjoyed sunny spring day, fresh air and some tea in the park. Walking around with pinhole camera got people interested and I had many nice chats with people explaining about the camera.

Sun, tea and pinhole camera – all you really need.

I will post the outcomes here if any after I have developed my films. Thanks for reading! Please comment if any thoughts rise because of this, I will promise to read & reply!

Update 2.6.2022: here are few shots from that day.

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non-technical psychology

Stop taking street photographs

Did the topic irritate you? If your answer is yes, this article is for you.

If you have shot street photography and questioned yourself of why are you doing it, should you bother people, how to take photos of strangers then you should start listening yourself. Your inner self is asking you the right questions and you try to fool yourself. Instead of being you, you try to be something else.

Just take the goddam photograph or don’t take it.

It is that simple. If it is hard to take one photograph then something else is messed up inside you. This might be difficult to accept but when you accept it, you become free and start to see.

Street photography has a high performing factor; you really really want to take that awesome street photograph you have seen online or in books. But when you go out on the street and try really hard you come home exhausted and with at the best – mediocre or just crappy shots. People photographed from back, too far away. And when you zoom in into a photo that you think you really took candid you suddenly notice at least four people staring at you.

If you feel awkward to photograph on streets or unsafe and try to find answers from online then you should just stop street photography. First of all it is probably a bit burden for you. And by your behavior on streets it is annoying for others. It is probably not really not worth it.

I know that the term ”decisive moment” is a bit worn out. Well, it has worn out badly. But it is the essence of street photography; you save some moment from this world what is worth keeping and worth sharing. It tells a story. It makes the viewers interested. But you cannot force it. Decisive moment cannot be created. But when you find one, you know it. You know it in your guts so hard that you cannot leave without taking a photograph. And that is the moment you should use your camera. You probably drop into zone where nothing else matters – what people think, how close you should be etc. You have the full license to photograph. Depending how long you have hold camera in your hands in your life you probably have been in this moment – maybe more than once.

Next time you are questioning your actions then you should really understand that inner you is asking you to stop. I would also argue you are taking mediocre or bad photograph at that time. ”Would I dare to take photo of that person?” – probably you are too far already because you are a bit afraid, it seems. The person has noted you already and your insecurity. And probably it would not be interesting shot at all because of your hesitation. So there is your answer. No. You shouldn’t take that photo. You don’t need to think about it. Your hesitation has answered to you already. If it would be a good photo, you would have taken it already.

So next time either take the photograph or pack your camera into your bag and go for nice coffee somewhere. Save yourself. Relax and accept the situation. Only after that the magic starts to happen.

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pinhole technical

Analyzing pinhole with scanner

I’ve read many times that people analyze their pinholes with a scanner. I tried this today with Epson V600 and my conclusion is that the resolution is nowhere near to make any good analysis. The shape / quality of the hole is probably pretty hard to see. I scanned at 2400 dpi and on my file one pixel equals 0.01mm so the difference between 0.28 and 0.32mm pinhole is only four pixels. 

These are two commercial pinholes from eBay. The millimeters are the advertised sizes and the cyan lines are lines placed for the advetised millimeter distance.

Because the resolution is so low even at 2400 dpi scan, I can only say that the pinholes might be as advertised based on the measurements I made. Both pinholes were purchased from same seller (1 year apart). Based on sellers microscopic images the hole should be really clean.

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exhibition

Exhibition: Kristian Jalava and Jukka Silokunnas at Photographic Centre Nykyaika

Photographic Centre Nykyaika, Tampere, Finland

Today was opening for two exhibitions at Nykyaika; Kristian Jalava’s “Invertible World” and Jukka Silokunnas “Entropy 2”. Both artists work is amazing, playful and very interesting.

Kristian Jalava’s work is done by exposing normal darkroom silver gelatin paper on a pinhole camera. Sounds normal, right? The thing is; the works are huge. Biggest print at show is about 3×4 meters (118 ” x 157″). The prints are the originals making all of them to be “negative”.

“In the photography project Invertible World, Kristian Jalava darkens various buildings into pinhole cameras and exposes large negative images directly on black and white paper. With his experimental photographic method, Jalava utilizes the static structures of society as part of the analogue image-making process. Jalava looks at the phenomena of a changing world from the perspective of buildings – in a shelter of structures that maintains slow time.”

I had a chat with Kristian about his work and these discussions are always eye opening and so fruitful.

Jukka Silokunnas exhibition was downstairs and he is making mostly video art, altough he had some physical objects also in display. His playfulness is so visible in his own person and in his work. I chatted with Jukka too and he told he want to use joy & fun as part of his work. And that works so well. I started to think myself how could I make uplifting art because we cannot have too much of it. Jukka’s work is amount materialism, dissasembly and .. junk. His work method is quite unique and totally interesting.

In both artists work one can see that all the hard work is needed to make such work. Nothing comes easy. Both artist work in very physical way; Kristian by exposing & developing enormous prints and Jukka by dissambling a van to small pieces. Crazy and nice guys, both of them.

I left the exhbition thanking myself for making myself to see the exhibition after a very rough two days. I felt like a new man after returning back to home. Well, of course big kudos to Nykyaika for being such awesome place. I feel blessed to live in a city with such gallery & photographic centre.

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grain technical

Digitizing film negative with digital camera

I’ve previously tried to digitize my 135 film with digital camera without any great results. Few years ago I purchased Canon FD slide copier + bellow combo and it takes only Canon FD lenses so I tried with 1.8 50mm FD lens and the results were .. horrible. Well, great in stylistic way.

I printed some mounting rings so I could use enlarger lens instead of the smuhy mushy FD lens. I got everything running and ..

I was blown away by the quality.

Left: Digitized version, Right: clip from the 30x40cm darkroom print

I rushed to pick one of my favorite negative which shows Tri-X grain in beautiful way and digitized that. I was very sure I couldn’t pick that grain. But it almost did. So close but remember this is quite a challenge. Grain (or actually; the grain clumps) are very small. The part used as example is a small part of 135 film negative.

The clip analyzed here is about 13x18cm from 30×40 enlargement. Calculate the enlargement amount if you want, it is quite big. The original is 135 negative.

I think digitizing this way is very very good This is just unbeliavable and mind blowing. I never understood digitizing with digital camera could produce such high quality. Also the easyness digitizing a single roll is so much faster than with scanner when the roll is uncut. I believe it takes 2-3 minutes to capture all 36 frames – and the quality is much much better than with flatbed scanner.

So question: is this some kind of hidden secret? Voodoo? Is the flatbed mafia next to my door when I post this?

Digitized with Fujifilm X-T30 + Nikkor 50mm enlarger lens, ISO 160, 0.9s exposure time. On right darkroom print on silver gelatin.

Below is the full frame from 135 film negative (and the previous clip):

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exhibition saltprint

My salt prints in exhibition

Two of my salt prints were on display in Laikku, Tampere, Finland during 5.2.-27.02.2022. It was a collaborative exhibition of Pirkanmaa photography clubs & societies.

The prints are made with UV enlarger from 135 film negative. Exposure time ~5 hours. The print area is about 18×24, framed in the exhibition to 40×50 size.

https://www.laikku.fi/tapahtuma/2022-02-05/Tampereen-Valokuvausseura-ry-Pirkanmaan-kameraseurojen-yhteisnayttely